Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzki, attends physio session with Kinesiologist Kirill Dubrovskiy, left, and physiotherapist Nelson Morela, right, in Calgary, Alta., Monday, July 16, 2018.(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

‘A lot more vigorous:’ Paralyzed Humboldt Bronco in third period with new physio

Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down after the Saskatchewan crash

Paralyzed Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki is drenched in sweat after a workout that more closely resembled military boot camp than physiotherapy.

The 19-year-old’s two-hour routine at Synaptic: Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary included chin ups, boxing, heavy rope training and pulling himself into a full standing position from his wheelchair just with the use of his arms.

“It’s a lot more vigorous here,” said Straschnitzki, who was discharged from the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia earlier this month.

READ MORE: Humboldt survivors to attend NHL Awards

READ MORE: Humboldt tragedy strikes the hockey community hard

He said the first time he pulled himself to his feet, it was a bit scary.

“It was pretty intimidating. But once I did it, I said let’s keep doing this and work on it.”

Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down April 6 when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team and a semi-trailer collided north of Tisdale, Sask. The crash killed 16 people and injured 13 others.

“This is going to make Philadelphia seem like a vacation,” said Synaptic’s executive director and founder Uyen Nguyen, who worked as a sports therapist for elite athletes before opening the clinic in 2012.

“His body has recovered a little bit more so he’s able to tolerate more.”

Straschnitzki was all smiles after an assessment at the centre.

“I realized I’ve got some movement back in my core muscles. They’re pretty weak but they’re getting back so I’m pretty excited,” he said.

“They should come back stronger and who knows what will happen after.”

Nguyen said Straschnitzki is now able to flex some of his stomach muscles and it’s a good sign.

“Our assessment shows he has some voluntary control below his level of injury so he’s able to contract some of the abdominal muscles on command. So it’s voluntary. We’ll work on that six pack,” she said.

“It’s encouraging.”

Nguyen said in the short term, Straschnitzki will be at the centre for up to a year.

“We don’t have a discharge date. We don’t have this checklist of you’ve met all these things and goodbye, good luck. What we find in here is most people’s goals evolve over time,” she said.

“We’re constantly pushing to see where the limitations are. We don’t know what he’s capable of so, until you try, you don’t know and it’s really a discovery process.”

Tom Straschnitzki says his son has made “big time” progress since he began his therapy at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary three months ago.

“He’s getting his balance, but that’s also from the training from Philly and the occupational therapists in Foothills also. It’s kind of progressed to where he is now. Now they’re just taking it over and doing it extra hard,” he said.

Almost immediately after the April bus crash, Ryan Straschnitzki talked about playing for the national sledge hockey team.

Instead of skates, players use double-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. They have two sticks which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting.

Straschnitzki’s dream of returning to the ice came true late last week. He was able to try out the sport which is one of the most popular events at the Winter Paralympic Games.

Straschnitzki, wearing full hockey gear, propelled himself along the ice in Okotoks, south of Calgary.

“First time on ice since April 5,” Tom Straschnitzki posted on Twitter. “BIGGEST SMILE momma and I have ever seen.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Illegal dumping pushes BC Conservation to the tipping point

Terrace office may bring violators to court to seek higher penalties

Natural gas pipeline cost soars

Coastal GasLink to carry gas from northeastern B.C. to LNG Canada plant at Kitimat

Airport wants LNG companies to build own terminals

Best way to handle expected crush of traffic

Province increases drought rating in parts of northern B.C.

Despite recent rain, streamflow still low and expected to decrease further in coming days

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

GUEST COLUMN: A better way to manage B.C.’s public construction

Claire Trevena responds to Andrew Wilkinson on NDP union policy

B.C. brewery creates bread beer from food waste

The brew aims to raise food waste awareness and provide funds for the food bank

Dad files Charter challenge after B.C. bans kids from taking transit unsupervised

Adrian Crook is taking his fight to B.C. Supreme Court

B.C. VIEWS: Cast your municipal vote for sanity on homelessness

Thousands on waiting list while anti-capitalist bullies get priority

Police investigate alleged arson at Toronto hotel housing asylum seekers

Police believe the fire was started intentionally, but they have not spelled out a possible motive

Most Read